I was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1977.
Just kidding, we don't have to go THAT far back.
I sang my first song before I could talk, though, and that part IS important. I started singing the tune to "Star Wars" when I was just over a year old. I'm fortunate enough to have a copy of it recorded:
When I was twelve, I recorded my first song in a studio. "Young Love" by The Judds.
It was around that time that I had my first panic attack. A little before that, I guess. It was brought on by a lovely experience I had of throwing up all over my principle in front of the entire fifth grade, and hit me on the bus as I headed back to school after recovering from whatever stomach bug I had. I remember a feeling of sheer panic when I realized I was trapped on that bus. I remember looking at the windows and opening mine up, just in case I needed to throw up. Then I could at least do it out the window.
Of course I didn't throw up, there was nothing wrong with me. After I got to school and was able to get off the bus, I settled down. But that anxiety would stick with me, on and off, forever. I missed field trips, spending the entire trip with the nurse and a bucket, just sure I was sick. I'd be out shopping with my mom and it would hit me. All of a sudden, truly out of nowhere, a surge of nausea and terror would hit me. We'd have to leave and head home, just to discover I was fine.
Nobody talked about anxiety and panic attacks, especially in children, in the 1980's and 90's. I didn't know what to call it, I just lived with it. It would come and go, with no rhyme or reason. Sometimes I'd be fine for extended periods and other times I'd struggle.
But through it all, I could sing. Who knows why, but I never struggled getting up in front of a crowd to sing. I was in plays and musicals and choir concerts galore, and it never occurred to me to be afraid. It was just as "home" to me as home was, and I was comfortable there.
At nineteen, I met a guy named Russell. He was in a show called "The Promise" in Branson, Missouri, and I was ushering there. I had missed the local auditions, but I knew I wanted to be a part of the show, so I took whatever job I could take to get me in the door.
Russell was going through a divorce at the time, and had two young children. We became friends, and he started asking a lot of questions about my church. He had had a pretty special experience with a senior missionary before moving to Missouri with the show, and I seemed to have the answers he sought. He started talking with the missionaries locally, and right after my 20th birthday he was baptized and we were married!
Anyway, we performed together for several years, and although we were broke (for real, famous people make money, the rest are pretty much broke) we were happy. We started our little family and things were good. Sure, those panic attacks were still lurking, but overall they didn't bother me too much. I'll tell you all about it in another installment of "My Journey", but I hope you feel like you're starting to get to know me! I did warn you it was a long story...